It's been 97 days since the Republican Congress allowed funding to expire for the Children's Health Insurance Program and community health centers. The temporary government funding measure kicked a few billion into the program, kicking the can down the road to the next shutdown deadline, a skimpy Band-Aid that's given little comfort to the families who rely on the programs, particularly CHIP. The barrier to permanent funding has been the House Republicans insistence that the relatively measly amount of money the program costs has to be taken from other programs, conditions Democrats refuse to accept.
Now, a new analysis from the Congressional Budget Office finds that because of Obamacare sabotage, funding CHIP for the next decade will cost practically nothing, reducing costs over the next decade from $8.3 billion to $800 million. How does that work? By screwing over parents with their Obamacare.
CBO and JCT expect that premiums for coverage through the marketplaces will be higher in the absence of the mandate penalties than they would otherwise have been. As a result, the federal cost of enrolling a child in coverage through the marketplaces will be higher. Thus, funding CHIP for five additional years—causing some children to be covered in that program rather than through the marketplaces—would result in a larger reduction in spending related to the marketplaces than in the prior estimate.
The agencies estimate that, without the penalties related to the individual mandate, a larger share of parents would be uninsured. When funding for CHIP is reduced under current law, some parents would seek to preserve coverage for their children and enroll them in a family policy through the marketplaces. Some of those parents would otherwise be insured and could add their children to their coverage, while other parents would be uninsured and enroll both themselves and their children, resulting in higher costs to the federal government relative to insured parents. In the revised estimate, more parents would fall into the latter category. Thus, funding CHIP for five additional years would result in a larger reduction in spending related to the marketplaces than in the prior estimate.
That—fewer adults with health insurance—should suffice for the pound of flesh House Republicans have been demanding. It's well past damned time to get this thing done.
Jam the phone lines of House and Senate Republicans. Call (202) 224-3121, and tell them to stop holding kids hostage and to pass a clean funding bill for CHIP and community health centers.